The common cold accounts for more doctor visits than any other health condition, and chances are that you’ve probably had one yourself, maybe even recently. Considering that more than 200 different viruses can cause a cold, it’s no surprise that the condition is so prevalent. The most common virus that causes colds is the rhinovirus.
The common cold is rarely a serious medical condition. It’s usually characterized by a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, headache, body aches and watery eyes. More often than not, it subsides within a few days or a week, although some children, elderly people and those in poor health might find that their colds last a bit longer.
It’s important to note, however, that some symptoms that at first appear to be related to a common cold may actually be related to a more serious condition. That’s why you should see a doctor if you have a fever above 100.4 degrees F., if the cold symptoms last longer than 10 days, if over-the-counter medicines provide no relief or if you begin to experience any other unusual or alarming symptoms.
Treating the Common Cold
Because a cold is caused by a viral infection, antibiotics will do little to treat the condition. Rather, most colds just need to be waited out. You can speed your recovery by resting, drinking plenty of water and staying warm. It’s also advisable to try some over-the-counter medications to aid the specific cold symptoms that are bothering you.
A cold is almost always passed from person to person, so the best approach to preventing that is to avoid contact with others who may have a cold. Frequent hand washing also is helpful, and it’s a good practice to avoid touching your nose and eyes so that you don’t spread a cold virus that you may have picked up.
SOURCES: American Lung Association; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many cold/flu sufferers seeking relief are taking too much acetaminophen, study finds.
Does anything help get rid of a cough from the common cold?
How to keep everyone else healthy
But research is too early to confirm a cause-and-effect link
Study finds more evidence of racial disparities in ERs
Many cold, cough and headache remedies contain carbs, and as much alcohol as glass of beer or wine, pharmacist says
Study seems to dispel a common myth around the daily supplement, researchers say
More evidence that family stress in childhood might affect lifelong health
Suggestions to help ease the misery
Even the common cold was linked to a 13-fold increased risk for about a week
Suggested ways to get relief
You probably use these items every day
People who feel isolated tend to have worse symptoms, research shows
Rhinovirus far more worrisome in those with weakened immune systems, researchers say
Here are typical symptoms
Cover your sneeze to protect those around you, health experts advise
Symptoms can be similar, but flu hits faster, is more likely to lead to complications
Signs you should see a doctor
Using a decongestant
Healthy body temperature boosts ability of immune system to fight the virus, researchers say
Looks like getting the right amount of sleep helps fight off colds and infections, new study concludes.
Slow-motion photos reveal a 'sheet' of expelled fluid that then breaks apart, researchers say
After summer or long break, symptoms spike when kids return to the classroom
Physicians' group and CDC jointly advise that the drugs not be prescribed for colds, bronchitis in adults
Dogs, cats can't catch your cold or flu, and aren't likely to transmit viruses
Suggestions to help ease symptoms
Over-the-counter treatments are riskier and costlier, says American Academy of Pediatrics
Results of self-rating study predicted which participants would catch a cold
Expert offers tips on ways to avoid catching colds, the flu
Videos of sneezers show droplets are of varying sizes, move at high velocity
'Get Smart' tips from an expert to prevent their overuse
Kids given azithromycin were less likely to develop severe respiratory illness, study says
Doctor offers tips on avoiding infection, battling illness if it strikes
Researchers also found children who had all of their vaccinations were less vulnerable
Fewer than six hours a night linked to higher rate of illness, researchers say
Bug that causes common cold, other infections often to blame, study finds
Influenza virus is spread by sneezing, talking and touching contaminated surfaces
Current guidelines don't identify them as a high-risk group, but they should, researchers say
Drugs carry serious risks, and most infants, toddlers recover with rest and extra care
Use a cool-mist humidifier
Signs they need medical attention
Virus, which can cause paralysis, has spread to 43 states, CDC says
Health officials also investigating whether it's linked to several deaths, cases of muscle weakness, paralysis
Finding provides new target for drug development, experts say